“A stark, moving theater piece by Tania El Khoury, brings us into painful intimacy with the human cost of the war.” The New York Times
“I like the idea of putting your ear to the ground and hearing the stories that normally go unrecorded and unheard.” Tania El Khoury
Gardens Speak is an immersive sound installation containing the oral histories of ten ordinary people who were buried in Syrian gardens. Each narrative has been carefully constructed with the friends and family members of the deceased to retell their stories as they themselves may have recounted them. They are compiled with found audio that evidences their final moments.
Across Syria, many gardens conceal the dead bodies of activists and protesters who adorned the streets during the early periods of the ongoing uprising against the regime of Bashar Hafez al-Assad. These domestic burials play out a continuing collaboration between the living and the dead. The dead protect the living by not exposing them to further danger at the hands of the regime. The living protect the dead by conserving their identities, telling their stories, and not allowing their deaths to become instruments of the regime.
Performances on September 15 at 3pm and 4pm will be in Arabic.
Recommended age and accessibility
Recommended for ages 12+
Gardens Speak is a full body interactive experience in which the participants are invited to lie down and have contact with soil. If you require an accommodation or have questions, please contact the Arts Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 610-526-5210.
Limited capacity of 10 people per show.
PLEASE NOTE: Gardens Speak has a strict no latecomers policy. Please plan to arrive at least 15 minutes prior to your ticketed time slot. Latecomers will not be admitted under any circumstance and we are unable to refund or exchange tickets due to late arrival.
Presented in partnership with Bryn Mawr College as part of ear-whispered: works by Tania El Khoury.
If a performance is sold out, please contact the Arts Office at Bryn Mawr College at 610-526-5210 or email@example.com to inquire about additional availability.
Interactive Sound Installation Performance by Tania El Khoury Production Assistant and Audience Guide Naya Salame Production Manager Jessica Harrington Research Assistant and Writer (Arabic) Kinana Issa English Translation Ziad Abu-Rish Calligraphy and Tombstones Design Dia Batal Set Design Abir Saksouk Sound Recording & Editing Khairy Eibesh (Stronghold Sound)
Photos Jesse Hunniford (featured); Tania El Khoury (above)
Gardens Speak is part of ear-whispered: works by Tania El Khoury. Major support for ear-whispered: works by Tania El Khoury has been provided to Bryn Mawr College by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.
Co-commissioned by Fierce Festival (UK) and Next Wave Festival (Australia.) Developed through the Artsadmin Artists’ Bursary Scheme. Supported by Arts Council of England.
About Tania El Khoury
Tania El Khoury is a live artist whose work focuses on audience interactivity and is concerned with the ethical and political potential of such encounters. She creates installations and performances in which the audience is an active collaborator. Her solo work has toured internationally and has been recognized with Anti Festival’s International Prize for Live Art, the Total Theatre Innovation Award, and the Arches Brick Award.
Tania holds a PhD from Royal Holloway, University of London. Her research and publications focus on the political dimension of interactive live art in the wake of the Arab uprisings.
Tania is associated with Forest Fringe collective of artists in the UK and is a co-founder of Dictaphone Group in Lebanon, a research and performance collective aiming at questioning our relationship to the city, and redefining its public space.
Learn more about the artist at taniaelkhoury.com.
Gardens Speak: the sound installation unearthing Syria’s backyard tragedies by Lyn Gardner, The Guardian
Gardens Speak uncovers not fragments of bones but fragments of stories: the reconstructed oral histories of the men and women who are buried not in public cemeteries, but in the back gardens of ordinary Syrian homes. These people really do speak to us from beyond the grave.